Outdoor Fireplaces Warm Up Your Terrace

Outdoor Fireplace

Adding an outdoor fireplace is a great way to make your backyard terrace or screened porch a wonderful place to relax on a cool autumn evening.

A recent and interesting trend in house design shows that many new homes include an outdoor fireplace. Sometimes this is a free-standing fireplace on a patio or terrace. It might be a part of an outdoor kitchen arrangement. Or, if you live in the land of nighttime bugs like I do, your outdoor fireplace might be on a screened porch. The wonderful thing about an outdoor fireplace is how it extends the season of your outdoor living spaces while providing a charming ambiance.

It used to be that you had to build these outdoor fireplaces the old fashioned and expensive way with bricks and concrete block. Then came the advent of pre-fab fireplace units that were built from stainless steel. The stainless steel allowed the pre-fab fireplaces to be used outdoors without rusting. This reduced the cost, but unfortunately, these units are limited in size. It’s tough to get a roaring fire in them, the kind of fire that keeps you warm even if you’re several steps away from the firebox.

Now We Have a New Outdoor Fireplace Option

I like fireplaces you can build from prefab parts. Earthcore and Firerock are two companies that manufacture these fireplaces. The parts are made of specially shaped lightweight concrete blocks that are made with volcanic ash and cinders. The volcanic material gives the concrete better thermal properties. It reflects heat out more efficiently than standard masonry fireplaces can. Because these kinds of fireplaces are built from a kit of pre-formed, manufactured parts, they cost less to build them than traditional masonry fireplaces. A skilled mason can assemble them in less time and even a skilled handyman can even do the job. The very best part is that these outdoor fireplaces, in my opinion, is that they are available in large sizes with openings up to five feet across. A fireplace that size will take some big logs and allow a nice, roaring fire.

The concrete blocks that make up these outdoor fireplaces are not simple 8”x8”x16” concrete blocks that have to be cut and chipped into the shape of the fireplace. These concrete blocks are manufactured in shapes that assemble “automatically” into a fireplace shape. Think Legos. Once the shell of the fireplace is assembled, any masonry facing, such as brick or stone, can be installed over it. The final result looks exactly like a traditional masonry fireplace, but just at a lower cost and with more heating efficiency.

You can find out more about them at earthcore.co and firerock.us.

I hope this information is helpful to you. You might want to get yourself a copy of my best-seller, Designing Your Perfect House. It is chockfull of valuable tips and advice that will save you many times the cost of the book on your house building or remodeling project. And check out my other book that will help you make your home a happy and “restorative” place. The Well-Centered Home.

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Bill Hirsch | Architect

Bill Hirsch

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